POKHARA, May 20: Gandaki Province is set to distribute Rs 400 million in grants to develop exemplary models of agricultural farms and animal husbandry, and provide employment opportunities to the youth.
The provincial government has termed agricultural development a crucial sector leading to national prosperity.
Agriculture experts, however, have said that distributing the entire amount at once to different farms was not advisable. They have argued that farms which have been running at low investments should be given priority for the grant.
However, the provincial government is set to provide 50 percent in grant against the total invested amount to farms making larger investments. For example, those investing Rs 500,000 will be given Rs 250,000 in grant.
Madhav Lamsal, spokesperson and under-secretary at the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture & Cooperatives of Gandaki Province, said that only those farms that provide sufficient documents and details would be given grants.
An investment of at least Rs 500,000 must be made to be eligible for the grant. The amount will be distributed to farmers through 2 directorates, 6 agriculture information centers, and 7 veterinary centers working under the ministry.
"Apart from making an assessment of the documents, technicians working in the ministry will also conduct an on-site inspection. First inspection has already been carried out by district authorities," Lamsal said. "The amount will be distributed only after a second inspection."
Lamsal further said: "Till now, only an agreement has been made. To be provided the amount, there must be some sort of assurance regarding future investments."
The ministry had planned to provide a maximum of Rs 1 million in grant. Of the 22,000 farmers who applied, 827 were selected for grants.
"The grant will surely attract farmers for further investment in the agro sector," Lamsal said.
The grant is not targeted to farmers who are establishing a farm from scratch. Rather, it aims to support those who have already made some prior investments.
As of now, no farm owner has been provided the grant amount. Those who received some form of grant from the government in the past aren't eligible for this grant.
Lamsal assured that this grant will attract more people to invest in agriculture. He says that by providing Rs 400 million in grants, they will be able to build an additional investment of Rs 800 million.
The provincial government has divided agriculture model farms into four categories: small model farm, business-oriented model farm, industrial model farm, and professional model farm. While short-listing the farms, land area, natural resources, infrastructure, applicant's technical education, and experience were taken into consideration.
Durga Prasad Dawadi, secretary at the ministry, said that the grant would provide relief to the farmers. He prioritized on the need of strict inspections before distributing the grant amounts. "We need to be careful, otherwise, if the distributed amount isn't able to fetch any results, the efforts will have been wasted," Dawadi said.